LOC ART has launched with the goal of revolutionizing art sales. Created by Santa Cruz residents Derick Delucchi and Dominic Elkin, Loc Art is an app that intersects art and technology, making the process of browsing, buying and selling local art more accessible, social, and smoother than ever before.
Both Delucchi and Elkin grew up in Santa Cruz and experienced the abundant local art scene first-hand. After graduating from college and returning to work here they also recognized a need for helping this cultural epicenter thrive in a more clear and consistent way. Inspired by conversations with artists and collectors alike, and aware of the increasing popularity of using mobile devices to shop online, Delucchi envisioned an app as an easier and more inclusive way to connect the community with local creatives. In early 2017, Elkin began designing Loc Art around this vision, and together they refined the product and officially launched the app in the fall of 2019.
Loc Art is a unique guide to the Santa Cruz art scene. The app gives art-enthusiasts the opportunity to discover talented artists and original artwork located right in their neck of the woods and reach out to artists year-round. Through the app, collectors can browse and shop diverse forms of art from high-quality artists representing a wide range of media. The platform provides a convenient and more personal way for shoppers to communicate directly with their favorite artists and commission customized projects. Artists have the opportunity to showcase their work, sell it, and take care of payments in a comfortable way, as well as connect more closely with their fans.
From exploring to contacting artists, generating a job quote to the final purchase and delivery of a piece, Loc Art offers a digital art market experience that is user-friendly, personal, and professional. Additionally, the app provides a calendar with notifications of local art events, allowing people to keep track of classes, festivals, and markets happening around the county throughout the year.
As well as pioneering the app, Delucchi and Elkin are active members of the community. Delucchi (whose family has been here for over 100 years) is a 4th generation firefighter who works for Cal Fire throughout the county. Elkin currently works for iheartjane, a Soquel-based startup software company.
We recently caught up to co-founders Derick and Dominic to talk about what motivated them to create Loc Art and how they imagine it evolving as more people jump on board.
Local Santa Cruz: What inspired you to launch Loc Art?
Derick: It started mostly by talking to friends who are artists and hearing about the challenges of trying to market and sell artwork when they really just wanted to spend more time creating. Then, when Dominic and I toured Open Studios a few years ago, we talked with some of the participating artists who were experiencing similar issues. That’s when we started working on the project and came up with the idea to design an app that would help local artists sell their work to the community.
At the moment, Loc Art is currently only available in Santa Cruz, but the inspiration was to create some kind of business that could grow community to community; something that could possibly spread across the U.S. and maybe even internationally but still maintain a grassroots feel. Once we get a business model down locally we can hopefully take that model and bring it to other communities interested in helping out their art scene in the same way.
Dominic: We feel like there is a big inefficiency in the way that the community interacts with art culture around them. If we could bring the same functionality that people experience anywhere else into the art realm, we think it would make it feel less like a “walled garden” – more approachable, easier to find something you are interested in, etc.
Why do you think it’s challenging to become immersed in the local art scene?
Derick: SC has such a great art scene but it can still be difficult for artists to dive in, and there’s not always enough time for collectors to find new or established artists. Opportunities like Open Studios, for example, often only happen once a year. There were over 300 participating Open Studios artists this past October. I only made it to about 50, so there were still hundreds of artists I wasn’t able to visit. Art markets featuring a number of artists pop up around town as well, but we’ve talked to people at those events who were overwhelmed trying to get around to see all the booths and have enough time to check everything out.
In terms of collectors, there’s also kind of a stigma around buying original art; that it’s only available for people who are maybe a little bit older in life or who have a larger amount of money to invest in art. For both locals and newcomers in the community, it can sometimes be a high barrier of entry to get into the art scene unless you know people that are already a part of it. These are things we hope to change with this platform. We see art as something that everyone should be able to enjoy at whatever level works for them.
Dominic: Right now, you almost need someone you trust to show you around the art world (given they know their way around). It’s hard to know where to go to look at paintings, take a photography class, or even just explore artists that you might like.
How does the app provide a solution for all types of artists and collectors, and what excites you about the potential of this platform as it continues to develop?
Derick: The more we became aware of the difficulties the community was facing, the more we thought it would be easier to have everything available on one platform so that people could discover artists and search through a large number of them quickly, and artists could present their work or communicate with buyers at any time of the year.
Based on the technology of the app, we’d like to eventually include videos of the artists talking about their work. There are also more chat features on the app, which makes it less about you being on an app just to buy and receive an order, and more about having opportunities to get to know the artists and learn about their inspiration and work. So, there’s a more personal connection available when you shop on Loc Art than if you were buying a piece on Etsy from someone in another country, for example.
Right now we have a QR code that takes people to the app if they scan it, but we might implement a QR code for artists who hang up their art locally, So, you could quickly scan artwork you see around town on your phone, the artist’s profile would come up, and you could follow them and stay connected with them that way.
Another big thing we’re excited about is the calendar on the app that helps people get out to more art events and classes. For right now, we’re sharing dates of events that other businesses in SC are putting on, like the Makers Market, Open Studios, and holiday markets. We’ve partnered with the Cabrillo College Extension program to promote their art classes, as well as the All Hands workshops. Hopefully, in the future, we can branch out and host our own community events.
Dominic: We’re excited to continue to innovate tech for the art community. Eventually, we would like to give artists the ability to treat Loc Art like their virtual store – with a unique link to their own account, where their artwork is hosted. We are looking to build features leveraging feedback from the community of artists who are actually using our platform.
How has the SC art scene impacted you personally and inspired the creative design of Loc Art?
Derick: Dominic and I were both lucky to have had so many great art classes available to us throughout all our years of school. I took several classes in film photography as well as ceramics and jewelry classes. I was aware that many people around the country don’t have the luxury of having diverse art classes like that in school. Getting that first-hand experience and enjoying the process of creating was a huge draw for wanting to bring attention to local artists and support other art-oriented people.
The business has come a long way since my original idea. I never thought I’d have my own app, but it’s been exciting to see technology merging with the art scene. There’s a huge connection that happens that makes the experience of art so much easier for everyone to enjoy.
Dominic: What a great question. I think growing up in Santa Cruz (and around the art and creativity here) pushed me to walk my own path. There are some “characters” in Santa Cruz that aren’t afraid to do things their own way, and I think Loc Art reflects that in its own way, too. We are going against the norms, but for the right reason – to support art.
If you are interested in selling your artwork on Loc Art, please visit www.locart.org/artists or fill out the information found on the Artist Portal page within the app.